The Arizona Wildcats held on to beat Utah State 61-57 on Wednesday Night at McKale Center behind senior reserve guard Dejza James’ first career double-double (14 points and career-high 14 rebounds).
Senior forward LaBrittney Jones scored a team high 18 points, 14 in the second half. She also had a season-high four blocked shots for the Wildcats, who improved to 8-2. Utah State is 7-4.
James’ output in only 26 minutes highlighted the Wildcats’ contribution from the bench, which outscored Utah State’s reserves 27-12. Arizona is 6-1 when outscoring the opponent’s bench. The Wildcats outscored the Aggies in the paint 30-24, and they are undefeated (6-0) when scoring more points in the paint.
James said she was playing the with the same mindset that she normally plays, but she added that she got into a rhythm over the course of the game.
“(The win) felt good,” she said. “Tonight, I was just trying to play my role and do what my teammates need me to do. Tonight, I just felt like the rebounds were kind of coming to me. They were just coming my way.”
James emphasized that her team’s performance went beyond her individual play.
“It was a team effort of course,” she said.
Arizona coach Adia Barnes had high praise for the Sacramento, Calif., native.
“She played awesome tonight,” Barnes said. “She tipped some balls, hustled down some balls, came out of nowhere and got rebounds.”
Barnes was not surprised by James’ performance. She noted that James had been playing well in recent practices.
”She had a really good week in practice so it was good to see her transfer that to the game,” Barnes said.
Barnes added that one area that her team must clean up is to take better care of the ball.
“We cannot have nine turnovers in the first five minutes of the game and expect to win basketball games,” she said. “We cannot continue to start slow. Those things are going to hurt us later.”
The Wildcats play their final non-conference game Tuesday when they host Portland State at home at 7 p.m.